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Paid in Full, by Rich Maffeo

    Six thousand dollars. That’s how much we owed our creditors after the medical bills came in. It might as well been six million for all our ability to repay the debt. Adding to our stress, my wife received word her godmother was seriously ill and expected to die. For thirty years, Hazel had been a confidant, friend and second mother to Nancy.

    When she hung up the phone and told me the news, I shrugged my shoulders in resignation. We didn’t have much choice. I withdrew the remaining few dollars from our savings and we drove to Kansas City. Hazel died a few days later.

    We returned home after the funeral and settled back into our routine. I spent much of my time looking for work and hoping my former employer would call me back from lay-off. Nancy tended to the needs of our two young children. Odd jobs kept food on the table and, with the help of family, we trudged forward.

    Then we received a surprise phone call from an attorney advising us that Hazel had bequeathed us a portion of her estate. While her will made its way through probate, would we like an advance on the money she left us?

    Within the week all our debts were paid.

    From time to time, when I think of how Hazel’s bequest freed us from our suffocating financial burden, my mind drifts to Another who, by His death, set me free from the stranglehold of a different kind of debt. For many years I struggled under a burden far greater than six thousand dollars, or even six million. It was one I could never repay in ten thousand lifetimes.

It was a debt I could never repay in ten thousand lifetimes.
    During those years, in my rare reflective moments, I knew something was wrong with my life. Following every new wave of passion which caught my interest, I drifted from one rebellion to another until my arrogance and temper, my lies, sexual flings and drunkenness bound me tighter than any iron chain.

    Not only did I know something was wrong, I knew what was wrong. In the deepest crevices of my heart I sensed my sins had separated me from God (see Isaiah 59:2) and my lifestyle deserved His judgement. I needed to fix my life, but could hardly go a day without succumbing to some temptation or another. My debt compounded by the hour.

    Then someone told me about the Will.

    “Though your sins are as scarlet,” one clause read, “they will be white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). Another portion promised, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And another, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Still another, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us have turned to his own way; but the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

    The Will—better known as the Old and New Testaments—continued on and on, page after page, promise upon promise. I thought it must be a dream. Maybe a cruel joke. No one knew the breadth and the depth of my sins as well as I. Would God really cleanse my filthy past ? Did He, despite my rebellion, lay my full debt upon Christ’s shoulders at Calvary? If I dared to look toward God and repent—would He really forgive me? Oh! If only it was true. If only my debt could be paid.

    I wavered between desperation and hope as the burden of guilt hovered above my spirit like a stagnant blanket. At times I thought I couldn’t breathe. And then an idea slipped under one corner. Would God lie? Would He promise something and not fulfill it? I knew the answer. I don’t know why I ever doubted.

    It was time to trust God. It was time to believe all those promises in Scripture were not just for “the world,” but they were for me. I went to my knees and apologized for all the sins I could remember ever committing. I asked Him to lay my debt on Christ’s shoulders. I asked Him to cleanse my past and forgive me. And in that moment of repentance, God fulfilled His promises. He gave me a new life, a new hope, a new future. Best of all, God stamped my certificate of debt: paid in full—redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.


HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-97, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
Article copyright 1998, Rich Maffeo. May be reprinted and reused for non-commercial purposes only if copyright credits are appropriately displayed.
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